DUNKIRK - A $20,000 seed funding grant has been awarded to Henlie Inc., headquartered in the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator.
Henlie Inc. is a developer of social networking applications, mobile applications, and educational software. Founded by Craig Rittling, president, the company wrapped up development of its first application called "PettyCourt" which launched recently.
PettyCourt is a social networking application that will launch simultaneously as a stand-alone website and also a Facebook application with exposure to 170 million U.S. members. PettyCourt will target various market segments including reality TV viewers, social network members, and online gamers. PettyCourt will provide an online solution for members to resolve disputes that are either too small in value or too trivial for small claims court. PettyCourt will fill the void between doing nothing and filing a lawsuit in small claims court.
From left are William Daly, county Industrial Development Agency administrative director and chief executive officer; Craig Rittling, Henlie Inc. president; and County Executive Gregory Edwards.
"Since taking office six years ago, a key initiative of my administration has been fostering entrepreneurship and supporting small businesses in Chautauqua County,'' said Edwards, who conceived the idea of the Chautauqua Seed Fund. "Recognizing a gap in funding availability, we created the Chautauqua Seed Fund to provide businesses located in the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator with greater access to capital during the time when they typically need it the most - the start-up stage."
Edwards said funding small business growth and development can be challenging. Often considered too new or too risky to qualify for traditional bank financing, entrepreneurial capital needs are also often too small to attract venture capital or, in some cases, even angel funding. Seed funding can be used to bridge the gap.
The Chautauqua Seed Fund is a collaboration among Chautauqua County Executive Gregory J. Edwards, the Chautauqua Region Industrial Development Corporation, the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator and the city of Dunkirk. Created in 2009 with an economic development grant from the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, the fund provides early-stage capital investments from the Chautauqua Region Industrial Development Corp. with strategic guidance from the incubator's management to its entrepreneurial clients. A committee comprised of representatives from each entity and a local certified public accountant chooses companies to receive funds. Investments typically range from $15,000 to $30,000 with a minimum 30 percent equity investment required of the business. In most cases the investment will take the form of a convertible note that converts into stock, usually at the time of the next round of funding. This is the sixth Seed Fund note approved by CRIDC with $145,000 distributed to date.
The SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator is a university-sponsored economic development initiative that supports entrepreneurs and business start-ups in the technology sector and related industries. The Chautauqua Region Industrial Development Corporation is a 501(c)3 organization and an economic development arm of the county IDA with the same officers and board of directors as the CCIDA.